MTU’s Blackrock Castle Observatory recognised in national awards for its outstanding contribution to science

MTU Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork, November 20th: MTU Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) has been recognised for its outstanding role in science education by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

Staff members from MTU Blackrock Castle Observatory on stage receiving an award.

The 15th Century five storey castle and observatory located in Cork Harbour is the official winner of the SFI Outstanding Contribution to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Communication Award 2023.

Recognising the huge role BCO has in informing the public about science, SFI said,

“Munster Technological University’s Blackrock Castle Observatory has been championing scientific literacy, communicating STEM through the inspirational themes of astronomy and space.”

Commending the award winners, Prof. Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Through their innovation, creativity and tireless work, these researchers have striven to improve the world around them. SFI is delighted to recognise their efforts and achievements with these prestigious accolades. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all the award recipients.”

Commenting on the SFI award, MTU President, Professor Maggie Cusack, said: “This SFI award recognises the hard work and dedication of every team member at Blackrock Castle Observatory and the imaginative ways in which they create engaging STEM-themed exhibitions to reach all ages.

“As someone from a scientific background and with a deep love of science, it’s a great joy to see the passion and commitment of the team at Blackrock Castle Observatory being acknowledged. Their efforts in developing STEM-themed exhibitions that resonate across all age groups are truly commendable. This SFI award serves as a testament to the invaluable contributions they make in promoting science, inspiring curiosity and making STEM accessible and exciting to everyone.”

Commenting on the SFI award, Dr Niall Smith, Head of Blackrock Castle Observatory, said, “The award recognises the contribution to STEM communication by a large number of Blackrock Castle Observatory staff and friends over a sustained period of time of 17 years. This consistent approach underlines MTU’s commitment to science literacy across all domains and is a testament to the professionalism, dedication and creativity of the BCO team members, present and past.

“The future wellbeing of humanity relies on us solving problems we currently face and taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities that will arise tomorrow. At BCO our aim is to continue to be a respected voice that supports these endeavours. A special thank you to Cork City Council who continue to partner with us to achieve our jointly held vision and to SFI for their crucial support,” Smith added.

The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Awards for 2023 were announced on November 20th during the Research Summit in Cork, a collaborative event hosted by SFI and the Irish Research Council (IRC). Recognising research excellence, the awards span a broad range of categories.


MTU Blackrock Castle Observatory is open Tuesday to Sunday. Throughout the year it stages award-winning STEM-themed exhibitions, castle tours, workshops and school tours.